Shabazz Napier having trouble adjusting to ball the NBA uses

Shabazz NapierShabazz Napier did not look sharp in his professional debut during the NBA summer league. The former UConn star, who led his team to an improbable national championship back in April, shot 28-for-102 from the field and turned the ball over 38 times. Napier had eight turnovers in his first summer league game, which is more than he had during any single game in his 143-game collegiate career.

While nerves may have played a role in Napier’s shaky play, he said the biggest issue he is having is a physical one — he can’t get used to playing with a different basketball.

“I just want to continue to get better at everything,” Napier told Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “But my biggest thing is getting comfortable with that basketball. That’s one of my biggest problems and it’s kind of ironic, because it’s a basketball. But it’s different than a college basketball.”

[Related: Shabazz Napier calls himself best point guard in NBA Draft]

Napier, who used a Nike ball at UConn, said he never wanted to touch an NBA ball for the same reason some guys won’t lay a finger on a championship trophy until they have earned it.

“The funny thing is, I never really touched an NBA ball until I left school,” he said. “I told myself I never wanted to. I felt like it was superstitious, like something bad was going to happen, like I had to earn it. I never touched it and it’s definitely different. This ball is leather and the biggest thing for me now is getting comfortable with it.”

That excuse will only fly for so long, as I’m sure Napier knows. In addition to adjusting to the NBA ball, Napier is likely going to have some issues with shot selection. He was the clear-cut leader of the Huskies and had plenty of hot and cold streaks. While Napier was incredibly clutch, some of the shots he took were downright ridiculous. That won’t fly at the NBA level, no matter what the balls are made out of.

Shabazz Napier on unfollowing LeBron: ‘I don’t know how to work Twitter’

Shabazz NapierShabazz Napier recently unfollowed LeBron James on Twitter. LeBron, who was Napier’s biggest fan while the former UConn star was leading the Huskies to a championship, was the first person Shabazz followed when he joined Twitter last month. We find it pretty funny that Napier no longer follows King James now that he has returned to Cleveland, but Napier insists he didn’t unfollow LeBron himself.

“The whole thing about that is I don’t know how to work Twitter yet and I’m not on my Twitter, so I don’t know where that came from,” Napier said after a Summer League game this week, via ESPN.com. I don’t pay attention to it. It gets brought to me by family members, but I don’t pay any attention to it. I just think it’s how it is. Media wants something to bite on.”

In Napier’s defense, he is new to Twitter. He has only sent five tweets, with his first one coming less than a month ago. And he even admitted in that first tweet that Twitter would take him some time to get used to.

It is very possible that Napier has someone run his account for him and that person chose to unfollow LeBron and delete a previous tweet Shabazz sent to him. That doesn’t mean the whole situation isn’t entertaining.

Shabazz Napier unfollowed LeBron James on Twitter

Shabazz NapierRemember when LeBron James praised Shabazz Napier and said there is no way he would take another point guard in the NBA Draft lottery ahead of the former UConn star? A report later indicated that LeBron wanted to play with Napier, and the Miami Heat responded by finding a way to acquire him on draft night. Yeah, about that…

Obviously, Napier and James will be on opposite sides of the ball when they face each other next season now that LeBron chose to leave Miami for Cleveland.

Is Napier angry that LeBron left?

As our friends at Black Sports Online pointed out, Shabazz has unfollowed LeBron on Twitter and deleted some of the tweets he sent to the MVP.

Napier joined Twitter just a few weeks ago, and LeBron was the very first person he followed after being drafted.

Napier is only following 20 accounts on Twitter, including the Miami Heat and a few other players from his draft class. He is not following LeBron any longer.

Shabazz shouldn’t be too salty. He has every right to be disappointed after getting his hopes up that he would be playing alongside LeBron, but let’s not underestimate the power of an endorsement from the best player on the planet. For all we know, Napier was drafted in the first round because of LeBron’s high praise.

Shabazz Napier: I’m the best point guard in the draft

Shabazz NapierShabazz Napier found a great landing spot when he was traded to the Miami Heat after being selected by the Charlotte Hornets 24th overall in the NBA Draft on Thursday night.

LeBron James likely was a driving force behind Miami’s acquisition of Napier. The Heat star had been raving about Napier going back to the NCAA Tournament and even called Napier his favorite player in the draft.

Napier is pumped to go play with LeBron James as well. He’s also confident in his ability.

“Now it’s my job to get in the gym and improve,” Napier told ESPN’s Jay Williams after being picked. “I’m going to do that, I’m going to compete my tail off like I always do. And I always have a chip on my shoulder; that’s what makes me the best point guard in the draft.”

I think this was a great move by Miami. Between Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, the point guard spots were a weakness for the Heat. Napier should go a long way towards helping that weakness.

LeBron James may want to play with Shabazz Napier

Shabazz-NapierThe Miami Heat are reportedly making an “aggressive attempt” to move up in the NBA Draft to put themselves in position to draft Shabazz Napier, according to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford. That should not come as a surprise.

As you know, LeBron James recently informed the Heat that he will opt out of the final year of his contract. It’s not a coincidence that he made his decision before the draft when he had had several more days to decide. LeBron wants Pat Riley to improve his supporting cast, and one of the ways to do that will be through the draft or through trades involving draft picks.

LeBron doesn’t tweet very often, but he took to social media back in April to praise Napier and the way he led UConn to an improbable national championship.

We wouldn’t be surprised if LeBron is intrigued by the possibility of playing with a young dynamic point guard like Napier, especially after the way Mario Chalmers struggled throughout the playoffs. However, it is highly unlikely that Napier will fall to the Heat at No. 26.

LeBron isn’t the only one who likes Napier. Ford also reports that Riley flew Napier out to Miami for a workout after the NBA Finals and tried to convince the former Huskies star to stop working out for teams so that he would slip through the cracks and down to No. 26. Unsurprisingly, Napier was not interested. Being drafted higher means more money.

Napier has drawn interest from teams as high as the Orlando Magic at No. 12, so the Heat know they will have to move if they want him. The problem for Riley is he doesn’t have much to offer besides a player like Norris Cole and Miami’s pick. The Heat don’t have another first-round pick until 2016.

While we’re not saying Napier is a deal-breaker in LeBron’s decision-making process, you better believe Riley is going to do everything he can to make the best player on the planet happy. I wouldn’t read too much into the whole “stay together if you have the guts” thing. Riley has to do some ass kissing whether he likes it or not.

Shabazz Napier has message for NCAA after winning title

Shabazz Napier UConn

Shabazz Napier had a message for the NCAA after leading UConn to the National Championship with a 60-54 win over Kentucky on Monday.

The senior guard, who won the title as a freshman and book-ended his career with another title as a senior, let loose in his postgame interview with CBS’ Jim Nantz.

“Honestly, I want to get everyone’s attention right quick,” Napier began, signifying he had something important to say. “Ladies and gentlemen, you’re looking at the Hungry Huskies. This is what happens when you ban us. Two years. We worked so hard for it. Two years and hungry. Hungry Huskies.”

Napier was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, so he definitely had some leeway to say what he wanted.

UConn was banned from the postseason last year for not meeting the NCAA’s academic requirements. It’s not like they were ratted out for breaking recruiting rules or something — they couldn’t make grades. But, hey, if that’s what motivated the team, then let’s not stand in Shabazz’s way.

Keith Appling foul on Shabazz Napier costs Michigan State (GIF)

Michigan State guard Keith Appling can’t be happy with the way his collegiate career ended. The senior committed a costly foul in the Elite 8 on Sunday that helped send UConn to the Final Four.

With 30 seconds remaining in the game and the Huskies leading 53-51, Appling hit Napier on the arm while the UConn star was shooting a 3-pointer. Napier went on to hit all three of his free throws and give his team a five-point lead, ultimately icing the game.


Given the way UConn has shot free throws throughout the NCAA Tournament, the last thing the Spartans wanted to do down the stretch was put them at the line. The Huskies hit an astonishing 21 of 22 free throws (95.5%) against Michigan State. They hit 41 of 44 free throws total at Madison Square Garden in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. They have shot 88% as a team in the tournament.


As Derrick Rose and his 2008 Memphis Tigers could tell you, poor free throw shooting can sink a team in March. Phenomenal work from the line has catapulted UConn into the Final Four.

GIF via Diehard Sport